West Midlands Fire and Ambulance Services have formally agreed to share a number of fire station sites in a move which will see more collaborative working between the two organisations.

The agreement, formally signed during the WMAS NHS Trust Board meeting last month [31 Oct] will see ambulance make use of some fire station facilities.

Ambulances and rapid response vehicles will be based at 34 West Midlands Fire Service sites including its Headquarters in Vauxhall Road, Birmingham.

Steve Vincent, Head of Community Safety at WMFS, said: "At a time when both organisations are under severe financial pressure, it makes sense to share some of our sites and facilities. 

"The arrangement means we are able to provide even better value for money to the taxpayer while maintaining the high standards of service that the communities we serve expect.  We work together on the ground, so sharing some office space is a beneficial extension of that."

The initiative will also enable West Midlands Ambulance Service to provide a faster response to an incident, because the number of bases ambulances can use will have increased dramatically.

Assistance Ambulance Chief Officer Tracey Morrell said: "This shows how far we, as emergency services, have come in co-habiting. Staff from both services have embraced the concept and it is working well. Ambulance service staff enjoy it because they have nice surroundings and have developed a rapport with their fire service colleagues."

The move is part of WMAS Make Ready project implemented by the former Staffordshire Ambulance Service more than ten years ago. The project has seen WMAS become one of the most successful ambulance services with some of the fastest response times in England.  

Make Ready involves the creation of 24/7 fleet maintenance hubs  - in Willenhall, Dudley, West Bromwich, Northfield, Erdington and Coventry - where dedicated teams of Ambulance Fleet Assistants prepare, service and maintain the fleet of ambulances.  Oncoming ambulance crews collect their 'made-ready' vehicle and go to Community Ambulance Stations from where they respond to 999 calls. 

More community ambulance stations are being established across the West Midlands in addition to the arrangements with West Midlands Fire Service, with further plans expected to be announced in the new year.

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Posted 15/11/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com